How to Choose a BMX Bike

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The BMX craze swept the US in the 1970s and kids and adults have been racing, jumping and pulling BMX tricks ever since. The BMX, which stands for bicycle motocross, is designed for tough track riding. Classic BMX bikes have low saddles, durable metal frames, chunky tires, and high straight handlebars. However, there are several BMX variations, with some tailored for urban skills or heavy-duty jumps, for example. Of course, as with any bike, you need to choose a BMX that's comfortable to ride.

Decide which type of BMX riding you want to do. There are three main types of BMX bike, each with a slightly different design. A classic BMX is a good choice if you want to race on dirt tracks, but still want to do some tricks and jump riding; a freestyle BMX is best if you want to learn "flatland" street tricks or ride in skateparks; and a jumper BMX is best if your main aim is to get some serious air.

Pick the right size frame for your body. BMX sizes are generally grouped into age ranges. The "mini" is suitable for young beginners of between four and six years old. The "junior" is designed for seven to nine-year-old riders. "Expert" frames suit those aged nine to thirteen. The largest frame, the "pro," is used by most riders over twelve. You may find slightly larger specialist frames for bigger riders.

Choose an aluminum frame if cost isn't an issue and you're looking for a lightweight bike for racing. Younger children may also find aluminum frames lighter and easier to handle.

Choose a BMX bike with wheels to suit your riding style. For example, racing BMX wheels tend to be lightweight, with 32 spokes, according to the Cool Biking Zone website. However, if you're performing urban tricks, you'll need a more solid wheel with either 48 spokes or a thicker mag-style design.

Tips

Make sure you test-ride a new BMX before buying. Even if a bike looks right in the store, it may feel very different when you're riding it.

If you also want to use your BMX to ride for longer distances, choose the classic style. It's probably the best all-around option.

Freestyle bikes are more solid, heavy and compact than the classic version. If you live in a large city without much parkland, this is a good option.

A jump bike is designed for dirt and ramp jumping. It has wide, thick tire treads not really suitable for road and park riding.

Warnings

Use safety equipment, including pads and a helmet. BMX riding is a high-risk sport, but it is much safer if you protect yourself.

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